Whilst some regurgitation is expected in babies, excessive ‘posseting' (bringing back milk) with poor weight gain, coughing or refusing feeds could indicate reflux. Don't worry though, this is quite common in babies and in the majority of cases, they should eventually grow out of it.
What is reflux?
Reflux is the word used to describe what happens when your baby's stomach contents come back up into their gullet or mouth.
What causes reflux?
Although reflux can be a bit scary when you first experience it, it's actually quite common in babies. To understand what's causing it, it helps to know a little bit about how the body works.
Our diaphragm is the muscle that acts like a valve to stop food from going up our oesophagus, which is the pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach. Sometimes though, this action isn't as strong as it could be. During the first year of a baby's life this valve mechanism will gradually get stronger as they develop and so the chance of getting reflux decreases.
Around half of babies get some reflux but after 10 months, this number drops down to about one in twenty babies.
How do I know if my baby has reflux and what can I do?
If your baby has reflux, you might notice that they regurgitate a little milk after breastfeeding or have hiccups. If some of the breast milk they have regurgitated has gone back down again ‘the wrong way', they might also cough a bit too.
Don't worry, as long as your baby is otherwise well and healthy, they'll be fine. You just need to keep a cloth or tissue handy for catching their milk when they regurgitate. In some cases, you might want to speak to your doctor:
• If the reflux is happening more than five times a day on a regular basis.
• If your baby cries excessively after feeds.
• If they vomit regularly.
• If coughing becomes a regular occurrence.
Try breastfeeding your baby in an upright position or holding them for 20 minutes after breastfeeds and trying smaller but more frequent breastfeeds first.